As the excessive pre-training cost arouses the need to improve efficiency, considerable efforts have been made to train BERT progressively–start from an inferior but low-cost model and gradually increase the computational complexity. Our objective is to help advance the understanding of such Transformer growth and discover principles that guide progressive training. First, we find that similar to network architecture selection, Transformer growth also favors compound scaling. Specifically, while existing methods only conduct network growth in a single dimension, we observe that it is beneficial to use compound growth operators and balance multiple dimensions (e.g., depth, width, and input length of the model). Moreover, we explore alternative growth operators in each dimension via controlled comparison to give practical guidance for operator selection. In light of our analyses, the proposed method CompoundGrow speeds up BERT pre-training by 73.6% and 82.2% for the base and large models respectively while achieving comparable performances.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) has recently achieved great success by using huge pre-trained models with hundreds of millions of parameters. However, these models suffer from heavy model sizes and high latency such that they cannot be deployed to resource-limited mobile devices. In this paper, we propose MobileBERT for compressing and accelerating the popular BERT model. Like the original BERT, MobileBERT is task-agnostic, that is, it can be generically applied to various downstream NLP tasks via simple fine-tuning. Basically, MobileBERT is a thin version of BERT_LARGE, while equipped with bottleneck structures and a carefully designed balance between self-attentions and feed-forward networks. To train MobileBERT, we first train a specially designed teacher model, an inverted-bottleneck incorporated BERT_LARGE model. Then, we conduct knowledge transfer from this teacher to MobileBERT. Empirical studies show that MobileBERT is 4.3x smaller and 5.5x faster than BERT_BASE while achieving competitive results on well-known benchmarks. On the natural language inference tasks of GLUE, MobileBERT achieves a GLUE score of 77.7 (0.6 lower than BERT_BASE), and 62 ms latency on a Pixel 4 phone. On the SQuAD v1.1/v2.0 question answering task, MobileBERT achieves a dev F1 score of 90.0/79.2 (1.5/2.1 higher than BERT_BASE).